Student protest is important. So why should it just be the preserve of the hard left?

You don't have to be Marxist to want a better world, but sometimes student politics makes it feel that way

You don’t have to think that the police do a bad job to agree that what happened at the student protests in London last December was not okay. You could have any opinion about the organization, and still think that the actions of certain Met officers at the end of last year were the wrong thing to do. You don’t have to care about every campaign on campus to believe that students should have a right to take part in peaceful protest without fear of arrest, suspension or violence for doing so.

You don’t have to view these incidents, the recent cuts to UK education, the suspension of students for taking part in occupations, the increase in fees, the decrease in real staff wages, and the outsourcing of various sections of our education system as part of a wider neoliberal agenda. You don’t have to know about all or any of these things. You don’t have to know what neoliberal means - and even if you do, you don’t have to think it’s a bad thing all of the time - to want to stand up for what you do believe in.

You don’t have to take to the streets or participate in traditional means of protest to fight against injustice, for justice and to demonstrate your views. You don’t have to be part of a revolutionary, anarchist or any other group to have an opinion on these issues; and you shouldn’t have to subscribe to an ideology to participate in a campaign.

Throughout the United Kingdom, there is a tendency for certain political groups to dominate or hijack student-led demonstrations that could otherwise rally widespread support within both the student body and the wider community. With the help of a few too many party-orientated banners, a megaphone fiend and a Soviet logo, a protest against police brutality on campus starts to look more like a call for revolution to many passersby.

In doing so, the campaign becomes exclusive. In some cases, it becomes a race to the left, a rally for competing ideologies, to which few people are subscribed. Those that are not walk away, and indeed are encouraged to, because they don’t want to be part of the groups that also (ironically) attempt to capitalize on the campaign.

In the coming weeks and months, the United Kingdom will play host to a number of new and existing student-led campaigns concerned with the future of British higher education. The announcement a few months ago that the Conservatives will privatize student loans by selling the student loan book has set the scene for a host of coordinated actions at various university campuses in the new academic year.

This move will affect anyone who has taken out a student loan, with strong evidence suggesting that as a result, many of us will not have succeeded in paying off our debts by the time we retire. If coordinated in an inclusive and focused way that does not pitch ideology above cause, the campaigns against the privatization of student loans could achieve the support needed to have an impact not only at the top but perhaps then within our society as well. The potential of people power is in itself empowering.

Individuals and groups should always be free to protest, to campaign and to do so without fear of repression. But the danger that dogmatic ideological heroism poses to cause-based campaigns must not be underestimated.

Ultimately it doesn’t matter what my or your political dreams are made of, but what we can achieve on what we already agree. We don’t have to be united in ideology to be united in action.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Software Developer

£18000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Graduate Software Developer i...

AER Teachers: Graduate Primary TA - West London - Autumn

£65 - £75 per day + competitive rates: AER Teachers: The school is seeking gra...

AER Teachers: Graduate Secondary TA - West London

£65 - £75 per day + competitive rates: AER Teachers: The school is seeking gra...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Developer - Surrey - £25,000

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Graduate Developer - Croy...

SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea